Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Oriental Negros’ Gem: The Bleeding-Heart Dove

I was touring a broken-hearted young lady from Manila and I congratulated her for choosing this side of the island of Negros to be the healing sanctuary of her heart-in-pain. I told her that this part of the country is indeed the best place to forget her “user-friendly” boyfriend.
User-friendly is our label for anyone who takes advantage of a relationship for selfish gain. This Manila girl is a victim of a user-friendly doof. And she made the right choice of taking a trip away from the toxic human elements of Manila. The welcoming hearts of our island are evidently shown everywhere in the gateway called Dumaguete, Romantic Rizal’s City of Gentle People. The lady visitor’s smile kept flashing as she found it almost unbelievable that there still remains a Philippine city that made her feel so safe even beyond midnight. She laughed when I gave her an assurance, “ walang mangyayari sa ‘yo dito. Kung meron man, masarap!” The sarap part could mean the Dumaguete Express of Lab-as, the sizzling bulalo and chocodome cake at Royal Suite, the chicken adobo at Gabby’s, the lengua in Mamia, the vegetable kebab of Jutz’ Cafe, and more.... She agreed and gave the sarap points excellent marks.
Our morning tour had me leading her to one proof of the island’s healing powers as echoed by this distinctive mark of the plumage on the chest of our iconic bird, the Negros Bleeding-Heart Dove (Gallicolumba keayi/featured as logo of the 7th Philippine Bird Festival). We went to the Center for Tropical Conservation Studies (CENTROP) of Silliman University, home of the Philippines’ Bleeding-Heart doves. First, I introduced the dove from Luzon and she was amazed at the beauty of the bird with the “shotgun hit”-like burst of red feathers on its chest. Then, I asked her to compare the Luzon Bleeding-heart Dove with the one endemic to Negros Island. She was even more amazed at the “healing impression” of the line of red feathers on the chest of the more colorful Negros Bleeding-Heart Dove. I told her in a tula manner, “ ipinahiwatig sa mga kalapating ito na kapag ikaw ay nasugatan sa Luzon, maghihilom ang iyong sugat sa pagdating mo sa Negros....” She guffawed at the unexpected love message from nature. But there was more in store for my friend: upon learning that these birds are capable of only one lifetime partner, she began to fall in-love with the Bleeding-Heart doves. What a man could have done for loyalty, the bird could do it better.
What is sad these days, according to the island’s forest angel Apolinario Cariño, “the population of the adorable species are extremely small, severely fragmented and still facing a continuing decline due to the reduced forest cover....” Environmentalists like Pol are alarmed as these birds are still on CRITICALLY ENDANGERED status, and they are working hard to give the Philippine pigeons the world’s attention.
2011, the United Nations’ Year of the Forests, is ending yet surprisingly, the impact of this celebration was never echoed by the Department of Education to young students. Just last week, I visited a number of public schools around the Visayas and Mindanao, and when I asked students about the Year of the Forests celebration, they have zero-level awareness of the focus on the trees this year. The story of the Negros Bleeding-Heart Dove would have been a powerful classroom inspiration for young Filipinos to be totally concerned with.
I hope more teachers had ushered school kids to view exhibits in the 7th Philippine Bird Festival in Dumaguete on September 24 with the theme, “Langgam Paluparon, Lasang Palambuon.” All bird angels of our islands and from other countries were all there and kids had a great time with them. Our very own Bird Angel Atty. Val, son of the Philippine Bird Man Dr. Dioscoro Rabor, gave a lecture on his father’s lifetime achievement. There were many inspiring points of the festival that LGUs would have supported. I was happy that the Mag-Degamo work spirit of the Oriental Negros Governor’s men was felt from beginning to end. Silliman icon of environmentalism Dr. Angel C. Alcala and University President Dr. Ben S. Malayang III were there with their valuable presence.
The Negros Bleeding-Heart, a ground-dwelling pigeon, is with unique features. Aside from the blood-red patch on its breast, its elegant regal-green crown down to the Mahogany brown hue spreads gradually to its wingtips interrupted by waves of white bands. In its breathtaking completeness, the colors naturally make the Negros Bleeding-Heart’s presence a fruitful reward when on a trek around the Twin Lakes.
The dove is truly our pride and joy as it is endemic to the Philippines. And we really need to work hard that these terrestrial species will have their favorite home, a dense forest, be preserved and recreated at some areas around the island and beyond. We have to ensure that their nestings on epiphytic ferns be totally protected. I wish too that the Provincial Government will make its glory a symbol of the country’s remaining tropical paraiso.
Let us not be user-friendly beings of this planet. Be inspired by the endearing presence of this lovely dove we can call our very own.

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